What is Airframe?

Airframe refers to the body and structure of an aircraft. Several more specific parts of an aircraft make up the airframe including:

Fuselage: The main body of the aircraft

Flight Deck: The area at the front of the fuselage from which the pilot operates the plane

Wings: Generates most of the lift to hold the plane in the air

Empennage: The whole tail unit at the extreme rear of the fuselage

Landing Gear: Supports the craft when it is not flying, allowing to take off, land, and taxi

In airframe training, students learn about the range of materials that make up an aircraft, how they get damaged, how to repair the damage using various technical skills. Materials include metals, glass, wood, plastic, carbon fiber, fabrics, and other composites! Repair methods range from temporary to more permanent repairs.

NAA Airframe Club

Airframe Training Incorporates Many Technical Skills  

As an A&P Mechanic, one of your most essential skills is inspecting an aircraft to verify its airworthiness. Repairs are only necessary when an error or flaw is found and makes the plane NOT airworthy. To thoroughly inspect takes an understanding of other industry skills to decipher between quality work and flawed repairs. Therefore, other specialized skills are hugely beneficial for attention to detail!

For this reason, our curriculum includes (but is not limited to) the familiarization of the general subject skills below!

Female student at National Aviation Academy trains on an Ice and Rain Board.

Manufacturing familiarization includes tools, machinery, and other innovations to process raw materials into finished goods.  Abilities involve the language of measurement & quality control, hand tools & processes, horizontal & vertical band machines, hand tapping processes, external threading, hand & machine reaming technology, heat treating, belt sander, surface grinders, and power hacksaws. A&P Mechanics are not typically manufacturing parts and components but will need to determine quality for inspection purposes.

Metal Fabrication is the practice of shaping metal to the desired form, includes a range of manufacturing methods, and typically requires many steps – from cutting and bending to surface treatment and assembling. Students need experience in this area for inspection of aircraft structural damage & repair!

Examples of equipment used are hand tools, hand-operated equipment, and power equipment. Skills involve measurements, straight-line layout, parallel layout, radial-line layout, triangulation, fastening sheet metal, gouging, forming & casting, fastening 1/8″ stock & heavier, assembly methods, and blueprint reading.

Aircraft Structural Damage & Repair is the replacing and refinishing outer structural parts, sometimes including internal components and other standard body repairs. Skills include; surface preparation, sanding methods, masking, priming, spray painting, spraying techniques, spray gun maintenance, repairing minor and significant damage, and composite repair.

Students demonstrate their understanding of metal fabrication and airframe structural repair by applying skills to a hands-on project, like our sheet metal project.

Welding skills are mostly in the manufacturing and overhaul sectors of the industry. Students need to understand welding, mainly to be able to inspect the quality of a weld to determine its continued airworthiness. The most common form of welding used in aviation is the 6G TIG weld. Other types of welding familiarization include ARC welding, MIG welding, oxygen-fuel welding, and cutting! See how our sheet metal instructor explains how to TIG weld.

Electrical systems run through the airframe structures and engines of the aircraft. It is vital to know protective devices such as safety controls, circuit breakers and fuses, communication wiring, AC & DC electrical theory, wiring methods and materials, wiring, direct current motor controls, schematic diagrams, and blueprint reading.

Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, & Refrigeration (HVAC/R) systems look different on older and newer aircraft. However, fundamentals like soldering, welding, refrigeration, and blueprint reading are the same. Older aircraft systems use the hot air passing through the engine’s low-pressure compressor stage, bleed air, which is cooled by air that flows opposite to the aircraft’s travel direction. This air is the primary source of breathable air, which supplies the cabin and the cockpit. Newer aircraft systems are very similar to those of automotive vehicles and buildings! They use fresh air that is scooped in by exterior pockets, providing fresh air to the passengers and crew.

Hydraulics & Pneumatics systems are fluid power applications and operate most of the landing and take-off equipment: landing gear, brakes, flaps, thrust reversers, and flight controls. The safety and operation of these systems are crucial for aircraft to take-off, fly, land, and taxi.

Are Technical Skills Required to Begin Training?

The Federal Aviation Administration requires that you must:

  1. Be at least 18 years old
  2. Have your high school diploma or GED
  3. Be able to speak, read, and write in English.

While previous technical experience is helpful, it is not a requirement to enroll and begin training. Many of our students had no hands-on experience before training with NAA! Our curriculum and program design prepare all skill levels for general technical skills, knowledge, and understanding. Once you earn you’re Airframe & Powerplant Certifications and start working in the industry, you will have the opportunity to continue to learn, develop, and expand your skills for the life of your career!

Are you ready to gain skills for a hands-on career? Apply Now and register for a Virtual Info Session!